Last year, the Fab Five and I went to the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, the oldest free hot air balloon event in the country, for the first time, and while it was hot outside, it was a lot of fun. But after all these years of living in St. Louis, I still hadn’t made it to the balloon glow, which is held the night before the race. Last night, even though I was tired after a long week, I decided I needed to take the train down to Forest Park and check it out, and thankfully, the girls wanted to go with me (these things just aren’t that much fun when you’re by yourself!). We had a lot of fun walking around, checking out all the balloons, and talking to some of the pilots about what flying a hot air balloon is like. We also got what I think is the best possible view…we arrived just before sunset, so we got to see all of the balloons in the waning daylight, and then watched as they lit up as darkness fell.
This is a great event, and while it normally takes place in a different part of Forest Park, I think this location on Art Hill, where the balloon light can reflect off the water in the Grand Basin, is superb!
For the fourth summer in a row, “The Bigs” have participated in a Kantorei Kamp at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis. It’s a busy, fun week for everybody, because while they’re at camp, Chickadee and I go adventuring…sometimes, I think she has more fun than her siblings do!
On Monday, while the Kamp had a full day of music theory, handbell practice, and choral rehearsals, Chickadee and I went to the playground in Forest Park and to the Missouri History Museum, where we visited the History Clubhouse and the new “Muny Memories” exhibit:
On Tuesday, Chickadee and I went to the Missouri Botanical Garden in the morning, and then joined the Kantorei Kamp for some swimming at the YMCA:
Wednesday was a little bit cooler, so Chickadee and I walked around the St. Louis Zoo and the St. Louis Art Museum:
We only had a little bit of free time on Thursday morning, so Chickadee and I visited the St. Louis Public Library and read some books before joining the Kantorei Kamp for a backstage tour of Powell Hall, a picnic lunch, concretes at Ted Drewes, and a concert by a quartet from the Greenleaf Singers for Make Music St. Louis Day:
And today we went with the Kantorei Kamp to the LC-MS International Center to hear them sing for chapel. After that, Chickadee and I visited the St. Louis Science Center before picking up “The Bigs” from their last day of Kamp:
And a bonus handbell piece from church on Sunday, which I managed to record while they rehearsing before the service:
Yesterday we headed to Forest Park for an end-of-the-year field trip. Most of our morning was spent at the St. Louis Zoo, where we finally got to see the new grizzly bears. Before we went home, though, we also needed to visit beautiful Art Hill, where we saw the tulips in full bloom. We also finally got see a St. Louis Mounted Police officer go by, which was amusing, and something of a shock even though we knew the mounted police patrol the park…there are just some things you don’t expect to see on Art Hill!
I think we can all agree this has been a rough winter. Thankfully, St. Louis hasn’t had snowstorm upon snowstorm like so many places around the country have, but we also haven’t had our normal spring, either. I am hopeful, however, that this morning was the last morning I will wake up to freezing temperatures (until next fall), and today actually ended up being a beautiful day, so I went searching for spring, and I found it in Forest Park!
When Ryan and I are were first married, we lived in Dogtown, within walking distance of Forest Park. And even though we got caught in a traffic jam (where we did get to see hot air balloons from the road), we somehow never managed to make it to The Great Forest Park Balloon Race then, or in the 16 total years we’ve lived in the St. Louis area.
This year, the event was scheduled to be held on Art Hill, instead of the Central Fields, which is a much easier walk from the nearest MetroLink station. So I decided that this was our big change to attend. Actually, I had intended to take the children to the balloon glow on Friday night, but I was unsure of what kind of unrest we might encounter after dark, so we decided to go the race yesterday afternoon instead.
It started late…almost an hour late according to the schedule. Since we’d never been before, I don’t know if that was to be expected or not. The wait was frustrating, and we were pretty close to just heading home (it was HOT!), but then we noticed that they were finally starting to fill a few balloons:
Once that process began, things moved pretty quickly. Before we knew it, the “hare” (sadly, the PNC Bank balloon, and not the Energizer Bunny balloon we were hoping for), launched, followed by the iconic Remax balloon, and then all the rest of the “hounds” in intervals:
We enjoyed a walk around the Grand Basin, to get a view of the launch from several vantage points. And there is truly no bad view of Art Hill!
This was a fun event, in spite of the long wait. The crowd’s energy was fantastic…there was cheering every time a balloon lifted off. And the view of over a dozen balloons (about the most you could see at any one time), floating in the distance seemed like something from a dream.
I’m glad we finally had a chance to see it for ourselves…maybe next year, we’ll get to experience the balloon glow, too!